Middle-Earth Baby Names – Arwen to Samwise

J. R. R. Tolkien’s 3-part The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) was first published in the mid-1950s.

The trilogy started becoming popular in the U.S. in the 1960s, and this is when we first see LOTR character names popping up on the SSA’s baby name list.

It became very popular when director Peter Jackson turned it into three successful movies (released in 2001, 2002 and 2003).

How did the movies influence the names? Let’s check it out…

Arwen

Arwen debuted on the SSA’s list in 1968.

  • 2000: 9 baby girls named Arwen
  • 2001: 12 baby girls named Arwen
  • 2002: 41 baby girls named Arwen
  • 2003: 117 baby girls named Arwen
  • 2004: 166 baby girls named Arwen
  • 2005: 149 baby girls named Arwen
  • 2006: 96 baby girls named Arwen
  • 2007: 98 baby girls named Arwen
  • 2008: 86 baby girls named Arwen
  • 2009: 81 baby girls named Arwen
  • 2010: 79 baby girls named Arwen
  • 2011: 73 baby girls named Arwen

The name Arwen means “noble maiden” in the fictional language Quenya (which Tolkien based largely on Finnish and Latin).

Aragorn

Aragorn debuted on the SSA’s list in 1970.

  • 2000: not listed
  • 2001: not listed
  • 2002: 5 baby boys named Aragorn
  • 2003: 5 baby boys named Aragorn
  • 2004: 14 baby boys named Aragorn
  • 2005: 9 baby boys named Aragorn
  • 2006-2011: not listed

The name Aragorn means “revered king” in the fictional language Sindarin (based largely on Welsh).

Eowyn

Eowyn debuted on the SSA’s list in 1973.

  • 2000: 5 baby girls named Eowyn
  • 2001: 12 baby girls named Eowyn
  • 2002: 7 baby girls named Eowyn
  • 2003: 22 baby girls named Eowyn
  • 2004: 64 baby girls named Eowyn
  • 2005: 69 baby girls named Eowyn
  • 2006: 64 baby girls named Eowyn
  • 2007: 55 baby girls named Eowyn
  • 2008: 50 baby girls named Eowyn
  • 2009: 55 baby girls named Eowyn
  • 2010: 51 baby girls named Eowyn
  • 2011: 50 baby girls named Eowyn

The name Eowyn means “horse joy” in the fictional language Rohirric (based on Old English).

Frodo

It’s never been on the SSA’s list, but I know of one in England.

The name Frodo is an English translation of Frodo’s real name, Maura, which means “wise” or “experienced” in the fictional language Westron.

Galadriel

Galadriel debuted on the SSA’s list in 1969.

  • 2000: 10 baby girls named Galadriel
  • 2001: 7 baby girls named Galadriel
  • 2002: 7 baby girls named Galadriel
  • 2003: 15 baby girls named Galadriel
  • 2004: 11 baby girls named Galadriel
  • 2005: not listed
  • 2006: 5 baby girls named Galadriel
  • 2007-2011: not listed

The name Galadriel means “maiden crowned with a radiant garland” in Sindarin.

Gandalf

Gandalf was on the SSA’s list in 1970 only (5 babies named Gandalf that year).

The name Gandalf means “wand-elf” in Westron and other Mannish languages.

Legolas

Legolas was on the SSA’s list in 2003 only (7 babies named Legolas that year).

The name Legolas is based on the name Laegolas, which means “greenleaf” in Sindarin.

Pippin

Pippin was on the SSA’s list in 2009 only (5 babies named Pippin that year).

Pippin is a nickname for Peregrin. The name Peregrin, which means “traveller” or “pilgrim,” is an English translation of Pippin’s Westron name, Razanur.

Samwise

Samwise debuted on the SSA’s list in 2002.

  • 2000: not listed
  • 2001: not listed
  • 2002: 6 baby boys named Samwise
  • 2003: 6 baby boys named Samwise
  • 2004: 5 baby boys named Samwise
  • 2005: not listed
  • 2006: not listed
  • 2007: not listed
  • 2008: not listed
  • 2009: 5 baby boys named Samwise
  • 2010-2011: not listed

The name Samwise is an English translation of Sam’s real name, Banazîr, which means “halfwise” or “simple” in Westron.

P.S. Tori Amos’s daughter’s also has a Tolkien-inspired name.

10 Responses to Middle-Earth Baby Names – Arwen to Samwise

  1. What about Lorien? I know two (including my niece, who was born in 1978). I picked a random year from the SSA to look up; there were 6 Loriens born in 1998.

  2. Oh, I see you addressed that name in the P.S. … but I still think it should be included with the others here!

  3. Thanks Diane!

    I left Lorien as more of an afterthought only because it’s best known as part of a place name (Lothlórien) and not so much as a character name (though there *is* a character named Lorien in the Tolkien legendarium).

  4. This is interesting, a dozen years ago I used to deal with a woman at the Smithsonian named Arwen. She had a last name that sounded like it was Lord of the Rings-esque as well.

    P.S. I love your site, I’ve been following you for a while now, keep up the good work!

    P.P.S. In the course of my work I ran into a boy whose first name was 35 letters long. Have you ever run across Mohawk names before?

  5. The dwarven names Dain, Thorin and Balin also made it into the SSA lists, but not Gimli. And Beren (from the Silmarillion, but mentioned in LOTR) occurs since 1980.

    Frodo was a legendary danish king, and variation of that name like Frode are popular in Norway, but in not the USA.

    The trick with Arwen is that you can always claim that it is a traditional welsh name … and Tolkien loved the sound of welsh.

  6. Kenzie, thanks! :) I’ve read a bit about Mohawk names before, but I’ve never written a post about Mohawk names here. Do you happen to remember his name?

  7. elbowin, thanks for the extra info!

    I think that trick for Arwen would have worked better before the movies came out. :)

  8. And here is a name with an anti-Tolkien pattern: Bilbo was in the SSA statistics from 1910–28, and never appeared again.

    Maybe the Hobbit films change this?

    P.S. The name Rohan (traditional scottisch or indic) may also been boosted by LOTR.

  9. Just spotted an article about a NZ writer named Eowyn nearly four decades ago–long before the name became trendy.

    “When Eowyn Ivey’s mother named her after a character in The Lord of the Rings 39 years ago, few recognised the fact.”

    The rest here: Eowyn Ivey’s fantasy story, The Snow Child

  10. My daughter is named Arwen Lothlorien (first and middle name) and has not chosen to change her name in her 36 years. She had another Arwen in her middle school class, and a colleague of mine named his daughter Arwen the same year.

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